Thanksgiving has come and gone; our bellies are full and our joy is abundant.  With the entrance of snow and freezing temps (not for us but maybe for you) comes the magical time of the year known as Christmas.  Expectations are high for both children and adults.  It is a special time overflowing with family traditions and sweet family memories.

Growing up in an Army family, the holidays were usually spent with just my immediate family: Mom, Dad, sister and brother. Though we were a small little clan, our Christmas was always full of tradition. PJs on Christmas Eve, nut roll and sugar cookies, and one of my favorites…decorating the tree together as a family. I have such fond childhood memories of pulling out each ornament, remembering who made it or where it was from, and the excitement of placing my favorite little wax angel on the tree. And when that first little bouncing baby came around, I couldn’t wait to share this family tradition with him.

But now as a Mom of five children, ages 8 years to 16 months…I have a tad different view. Is trimming the tree fun? Yes. Busy? For Sure. Does it cause me to get all warm and fuzzy? Warm…’Cause we live on the equator. Fuzzy? Mmmm… in the room is spinning, “why do I have this headache?” kind of way.

But I do like decorating the tree with my kids every year… I love chaos.  After all, it’s my chaos.

So, if you have little people around your house and they are starting to salivate waiting for you to bring the Christmas decorations out from the attic, this post is for you.  I’ve put together some helpful tips to help you keep the MERRY in this little Christmas tradition.

kids

The Do’s and Don’ts of Tree Trimming with Small Children

Do allow their Christmas enthusiasm to encourage you. When you aren’t really feeling up to stringing the lights, let the joy of their beaming faces cheer you on. And when, let’s say, pencils start raining down on you while you are putting up the lights, chalk it up to the fact that your son threw 1,002 pencils into the tree because of said enthusiasm.

Don’t become attached to inanimate objects. You know that set of 8 manger scene Christmas ornaments your aunt gave you when you were 18. Well, you are down to two. Reindeer don’t need antlers and basketball ornaments don’t need basketballs. Forget about it. Because they all will be gone….broken, dead, lifeless. It’s easier to detach now.

Do laugh. So you don’t cry. Big girls don’t cry over broken ornaments.

Don’t worry about a bare tree. Your kids are way more creative than you. Ornaments are things of the past (see above). By the end of the day those bare spots will be covered with Barbie dolls and lego men. Just go with it. It looks great. Very abstract and modern.

Do allow them to help. ‘Cause I hear one day it will actually be help.

Don’t wait until the middle of the festivities to give ‘the talk’. No crying. No yelling. No spitting. No hitting. Be joyful. Be thankful. Be happy. Be merry. Before you begin, people, before!

hazel with star2

Do allow them to help with the tree topper. Take it down. Put it up. Take it down. Put it up. Until.all.the.children.have.had.a.turn. It’s that darn enthusiasm again. Now, tilt your head a little to the left. See! Straight!

Don’t use after hours as a time to rearrange. I know that there are 42 ornaments hanging on one branch. But tomorrow those 42 ornaments will be back on that one branch. You know what they say is the definition of an insane person? Let it go.

Do encourage all members of the family to participate.  Maybe all members of your family don’t appreciate the merry festivities but one day your husband…ahem…I mean that person in the family who is reluctant to participate will be thankful for the memory.

george with bulbs

Do treasure the memories. Because they grow up way too fast, according to grandma and the lady behind you at the check-out line. Way too fast.

And finally, don’t forget what Christmas is all about.  It’s not about the tree that you are placing those shiny ornaments on.  It’s about the tree.  The tree that would one day hold a king and change the whole course of history.

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 Do you have your own list of do’s and don’ts?  How do you incorporate your little kiddos into the Christmas traditions around your home?